seven elk men with two-fingered hands and small hooves for feet. They are shown walking in procession, one behind the other, along the back of a long-horned, scaly anteater, a subject associated with the cult of twins.What's more, there are several other known figures of Elk Men from this culture.
Here is another, of the same date, described by the museum like this:
An elk/man is walking along the back of an anteater, surrounded by the remains of his victims – two animal heads and three animal skins, one of which is of a beaver.The elk men look like shamans to me.
Here is a slightly older figure from the same region, 2nd century AD, a man wearing a bear skin that looks even more explicitly shamanistic.
I wonder why that figure under the feet of the elk men is identified as an anteater? Anteaters don't live in Russia. It appears again in this image, described as
The plaque has a complex design showing a winged anthropomorph on the back of a long anteater. The anteater has a short wavy tail, short three-toed feet, and seven fish in its belly. Over the anthropomorph appear several elk and bird heads, and at its right and left are two human masks and eleven animal heads.
This plaque probably illustrates the Udmurt myth of the seven worlds of the universe: three above the earth, the earth itself, and three below the earth. The heavens are symbolized by birds, the earth by the anthropomorphic figure and the elks, and the underworld, the world of water, by the anteater and the fish.
What a strange and wonderful world this is.